Where Does Our Energy Come From?
For all living beings, including plants, our energy originates from the sun. Plants use this energy to form carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This reason alone is why we should have diets rich in vegetables-they have all the major compounds needed for vitality. For people, we need all three components to provide us with the necessary energy to maintain cellular activity-both at a rested state and active state. We need carbohydrates, like sugars (from fruits) and starches (like yams) to give our body fuel for activity. We need fats (like avocados) to help us store energy. Likewise, we need proteins, which are complex molecules made up of amino acids, to help us repair and create cells and tissue fibers. Proteins are found in foods like eggs, fish, meat, and soy.
Now, our bodies are intelligent machines that know how to use these three forms of energy to create a functioning metabolism. Our metabolism is how the body sustains and and builds itself, and how it breaks down substances for the production of energy. The interesting thing about our body, is that the body is constantly trying to get to a state of homeostasis.
Homeostasis is the body's automatic tendency to maintain a constant internal environment. It's similar to how you would think of a central air system. Our body knows when to cool itself off or heat itself up, and our body knows when to conserve energy and when to burn energy. Our body's need for homeostasis is a constant goal. Through manipulation of our metabolism, we can either disrupt the process or help the process of homeostasis.
We can disrupt that process by either over-feeding our body or by under feeding our body. Likewise, too little exercise, or too much training, can also negatively effect our metabolism. Our body is constantly searching for perfect harmony, and one way it does that is through our metabolism. The interesting thing about our metabolism, is that we have the power to change it. To change your metabolism, you first need to know the phases of the metabolism.
The Phases of Our Metabolism
Our metabolism has two phases. The first phase is anabolism. This is when there is a chemical reaction occurring in the body which combines different bio-molecules to create larger, more complex cells. This new cellular energy generates things like enzymes, proteins, and cell membranes. This process also helps the growth and repair of many tissues and cells in our body. To me, this means: feed the body proteins! Why? It is necessary to have proteins in your diet in order to maintain anabolism with efficiency.
Feeding your body proteins, especially around training time, will help to both restore muscle fibers and build muscle fibers. To stay fuller longer, eat protein with every meal. Not only will you have less cravings, but you are also helping your body to generate new cells and repair itself.
The second phases of the metabolism is catabolism. This is the phases when there is a chemical reaction that breaks down complex bio-molecules into simpler ones for energy production. Catabolism gives the body the energy needed for transmitting nerve impulses and muscular contractions. To me, this means I need to feed my body complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, to ensure that when I am active my body can perform effectively and efficiently. A good rule of thumb, is to eat performance carbs at least two hours before physical activity and post-training. By feeding your body carbohydrates, before and after training time, you are helping your body to breakdown energy reserves, like fats and sugars.
To ensure that the body is creating new cells (anabolism) and burning up the right amount of energy (catabolism) we need to make sure we are feeding our metabolism correctly. To do this, start by knowing how much Caloric energy you need on a daily basis. In addition, make sure that you are burning enough energy, through exercise, to ensure that you are not overly conserving energy-which turns to excess body fat.
How to Know Your Metabolism
Learn your BMR-Basal Metabolic Rate! BMR is the metabolic starting point. It is what the body seeks to maintain. It is also what a person needs to know if they want to speed up or slow down their metabolism. Your metabolism can be manipulated through diet and physical activity. The choices we make with nutrition and training ultimately result in a total body composition.
The calculation algorithm is as follows(imperial system)
DCE = Activity caloric expenditure
HI = Height in inches
WP = Weight in pounds
ALF = Activity Level
ALF 1.2 Sedentary
ALF 1.375 Light Activity
ALF 1.55 Moderate Activity
ALF 1.725 Very Active
ALF 1.9 Extremely
DCE = ALF x ( ( 4.35 x WP) + (4.7 x HI) - (4.68 x age) + 655)
DCE = ALF x ( (6.25 x WP) + (12.7 x HI) - (6.76 x age) + 66)
For example, my client is 38 years old and weighs 150 lbs and is 5'5" in height. She is sedentary and has a body fat consisting of about 35%. To find her BMR, the math would look like this:
1.2 x ( ( 4.35 x 150) + (4.7 x 65 ) - (4.68 x 38) + 655)
1.2 x 1,435.16 + 1, 722
DCE = 1, 722 Calories
This tells me how many calories she needs, even in a fully rested state, so that her body is functioning properly. Now, the real trick is making sure that the foods being consumed are thermogenic, which only help our metabolism to be more efficient and help us reach our fitness goals.
Using the Thermogenic Effect and Foods
If you really want to help your body's metabolism you cannot just think of food in terms of calories alone. You have to think about WHAT you are feeding it. Our body is similar to a luxury sports car. If you want that car to hit its top RPMs, and to shift from gear to gear with fluidity, then you want to make sure you have quality gasoline, oils, and fluids in that machine. Our bodies are no different. True, gas is gas, and calories are calories, but nutrients are not equal just like the grades of gasoline are not equal. A Mercedes Benz will be ruined if you put low petroleum based gasoline in its engine. Likewise, your energy will be sucked dry if you try to live off candy bars and soda all day. You might hit your BMR everyday choosing a processed foods diet, but I can guarantee that you will not get your three forms of essential nutrients to maintain the two phases of your metabolism, nor will you see an increase of lean body mass compared to body fat. So, how do you know what kind of calories to feed yourself? Start with understanding the thermic effect.
First of all, the thermic effect is the heat that is released from foods. Increased thermogensis equates to an increased amount of oxygen consumption and metabolic rate in the body. This is how to measure the energy efficiency of foods. To keep it simple and pure, just think of whole foods vs. processed foods. Whole foods like green veggies, fruits, eggs, legumes, grains, fish, and lean protein sources will always provide more bang for the buck compared to processed foods like supplement bars, candy bars, enriched flours, cookies, fast food, or anything where you cannot pronounce the ingredients. My advice: shop on the outside of the supermarket.
Thermic effect foods can be found on the perimeter of markets. The outside aisles, or sections of a market, generally have your produce, meats, bulk grains, and dairy products. The middle aisles generally have your junk food. Does this mean things like cookies, ice cream, Doritos, or Swedish Fish can never be enjoyed? No! If your goal, however, is to improve your metabolism and physique then eating junk just will not get you to your desired goal. You have to learn about balance.
To reach your metabolism and physique goals, one must make sure that the two phases of the metabolism are working efficiently and effectively. We ensure this by eating whole foods 80 percent or more of the time on a weekly basis. In addition, you want to make sure that the perfect zone of calories you need to perform daily life and activities are being feed by the most energy efficient foods. Again, whole foods are how to help the thermic effect and ultimately your metabolism. Couple that with exercise, plenty of water, adequate rest, and a reduction of stress then you will have the finest machine you could ask for in this life.
If you would like nutritional support and meal plans, please contact me for services. Thank you!
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.